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Japan, officially Nippon (日本) is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of China, Korea and Russia. The characters that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes identified as the "Land of the Rising Sun".

Japan comprises over 3,000 islands, the largest of which are Honshū, Hokkaidō, Kyūshū and Shikoku. Most of the islands are mountainous, many volcanic; for example, Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji, is a volcano. Japan has the world's tenth largest population, with about 128 million people. The Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the capital city of Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents.

Influence from the outside world followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan's history. Since adopting its constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament, the Diet.

A major economic power, Japan has the world's third largest economy by nominal GDP. It is a member of the United Nations, G8, G4, OECD and APEC, with the world's fifth largest defense budget. It is also the world's fourth largest exporter and sixth largest importer and a world leader in technology and machinery.

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Prince Hanzoku terrorised by a nine- tailed fox.jpg
Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—others portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives. Foxes and human beings lived in close proximity in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as his messengers. This role has reinforced the fox's supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has—they may have as many as nine—the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make offerings to them as to a deity. It is widely agreed that many fox myths in Japan can be traced to China, Korea, or India. Chinese folk tales tell of fox spirits that may have up to nine tails. Many of the earliest surviving stories are recorded in the Konjaku Monogatari, an 11th-century collection of Chinese, Indian, and Japanese narratives. There is debate whether the kitsune myths originated entirely from foreign sources or are in part an indigenous Japanese concept dating as far back as the fifth century BC.

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Tsūjun Bridge
Credit: Masamic

Tsūjun Bridge is an aqueduct built in 1854 in Yabe. At 84.0 m long, this arch bridge is the largest stone aqueduct in Japan. The Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs has designated the bridge an Important Cultural Property.

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Three Maiko posing on an engawa, c. 1885. Hand-coloured albumen silver print.
Adolfo Farsari was an Italian photographer based in Yokohama, Japan. Following a brief military career, including service in the American Civil War, he became a successful entrepreneur and commercial photographer. His photographic work was highly regarded, particularly his hand-coloured portraits and landscapes, which he sold mostly to foreign residents and visitors to the country. Farsari's images were widely distributed, presented or mentioned in books and periodicals, and sometimes recreated by artists in other media; they shaped foreign perceptions of the people and places of Japan and to some degree affected how Japanese saw themselves and their country. His studio—the last notable foreign-owned studio in Japan—was one of the country's largest and most prolific commercial photographic firms. Largely due to Farsari's exacting technical standards and his entrepreneurial abilities it had a significant influence on the development of photography in Japan.

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Flag of Fukui Prefecture
Fukui Prefecture is a prefecture of Japan located in the Chūbu region on Honshū island. The capital is the city of Fukui. Fukui originally consisted of the old provinces of Wakasa and Echizen, before the prefecture was formed in 1871. During the Edo period, the daimyō of the region was surnamed Matsudaira, and was a descendant of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The province faces the Sea of Japan, and has a western part (formerly Wakasa) which is a narrow plain between the mountains and the sea, and a larger eastern part (formerly Echizen) with wider plains including the capital and most of the population. The mountain side of the eastern part has much snow in winter. Fukui Prefecture is home to Maruoka-jō, the second oldest standing castle in Japan, after Inuyama Castle. It was built in 1576.

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  • ... that Japanese anime director Rintaro has worked in animation for 50 years and co-founded the animation studio Madhouse?

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In the news

20 February 2020 – 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak
Two Japanese passengers who were on board of the Diamond Princess cruise ship have died from the disease. Both, a man and a woman in their 80s, had underlying health conditions. (BBC)
20 February 2020 –
The California State Legislature unanimously passes a resolution apologizing for the state's role in interning Japanese-Americans during World War II. (The Guardian)
19 February 2020 – 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak
Hundreds of passengers aboard the Diamond Princess are allowed to disembark the ship. The vessel has been quarantined since docking in Yokohama on 4 February. Criticism mounts against the Japanese government's handling of the quarantine. (Reuters)
17 February 2020 – Sagamihara stabbings
Prosecutors in Japan announce they are officially seeking the death penalty against Satoshi Uematsu for stabbing 19 disabled people to death in 2016. (CNA)
13 February 2020 – 2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak
Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reports the country's first death related to the COVID-19 outbreak, a woman in her 80s. (The Japan Times)
11 February 2020 –
Softbank, the Japanese venture capital giant, announced fourth quarter results. They were dismal, due especially to Softbank's losses on its Vision Fund. (Reuters).

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Coordinates: 36°30′N 139°00′E / 36.5°N 139°E / 36.5; 139